Posted tagged ‘twitter’

The trouble with experts

May 31, 2012

I don’t know everything.  There, I’ve finally said it – there are things which I simply don’t know.  I don’t know how to perform open heart surgery, I don’t know how to land an aeroplane in an emergency and I don’t know how to make Piers Morgan likeable.

I don’t feel bad about this lack of knowledge though, because for all the things I don’t know (except the latterly mentioned Piers Morgan conundrum) there are other people out there who do know how to do these things.  For each of these problems and for many, many others there are experts who have spent their lives (or at least 10,000 hours) learning about a specific topic and becoming the people who deliver solutions.

And then on the other hand are those people who speak with authority on subjects, yet have little to substantiate their attitudes and opinions.  Admittedly this is more of an immediate issue when faced with heart surgery or a descending 747, but in the less extreme world of local government these individuals have the ability to cause more pain, confusion and blockages than a street bought burrito after a night out.

I will use a recent experience to demonstrate my point here, but please don’t think this is confined to any single field of work; these people and attitudes permeate every service and level of local government. (more…)

Update this?

May 8, 2012

Update this.

For those who don’t know me, here’s a little information about my recent activities. Over the bank holiday weekend I took my family out to the park, went to a museum and also caught the new Avengers movie (for an unrepentant geek like me, it’s a fantastic film). At various points over those three days I found myself checking out Twitter and sometimes posting a short message or two about what I was up to, commenting perhaps on the great sporting events which were on offer or just RTing something random I found interesting or amusing.

Usually this activity was accompanied by a familiar discussion between my husband and I: who on earth is interested in any of that?

My other half has accepted that my online activity is something that professionally I get a lot out of. I am not as prolific a personal tweeter as some, but usually post something up a couple of times a day, and invariably these missives are work related. I have a small but growing network whom I swap thoughts, jokes and links with, and sometimes I also tweet about things in my life which take place outside of te regular 9-5. But should I? Should I be mixing the two in some strange life/work cocktail which results in a sore head and regrets, or should I instead invest in some bricks and mortar to build a bit of a chinese wall between them? (more…)

‘The world hasn’t ended’: what happens when you give all staff access to social media

March 7, 2012

Many different ways to bring about the apocalypse

We absolutely love a guest post (two in two days!) and when we get offered a guest post by a fellow officer who we all respect a lot (admittedly from afar) it is impossible to say no. In this case we have also waived our anonymity rule to give full credit to Helen Reynolds (a communications officer tasked with developing social media) and Monmouthshire County Council (who she works for). In this post Helen discusses what happens when you give staff access to social media. Apparently, the world doesn’t end (who knew?). So without further ado and with many thanks to Helen please enjoy today’s post:

In January 2011 we opened social media access to all staff at Monmouthshire County Council and now everyone who uses the internet for work can look at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and other social media whenever they want.

This seems to be a rare thing in the public sector, I don’t know another organisation that has done it. People often ask how it’s going and my answer is usually ‘well, the world hasn’t ended’.  In fact, it’s really breathing life into our council and communities at a time when our organisation is going through a lot of change.

As we said in the staff e-zine when we first opened access, one of our values is openness and our staff are trusted to make the most of the networks and conversations possible using social media. Social media is a great way for us to engage more effectively with colleagues, residents and partners so it’s an opportunity that can’t be missed.

We’ll make some errors and we still have work to do on getting better at using these channels but we’ve made a start.

It seems all the issues we debated before and since this happened aren’t about social media at all – they’re about the way we work. Here is some of what we’ve learnt.


This is the localgov week that was

October 28, 2011

Some of our favourite blog posts this week

One of the things we love most about writing this blog is the excuse it gives us to spend time on the internet, reading other blogs for ‘research’ purposes.  Since we began writing all that time ago more than a few others have joined us in the blogosphere, regularly educating and amusing us in equal measures.  Some agree with some of the things we write here, others point out all of the things we haven’t thought of or which totally disagree – which is certainly no bad thing.

So in an effort to spread a little blogging cheer we wanted to point our readers towards some of the blog posts we have particularly enjoyed over the past week.  If we missed one that you thought was particularly good then tell us about it in the comments below or tweet us a link (@welovelocalgov by the way) and tell others all about it.  And if you come across something interesting over the next week or so, you know who to tell!


Is this the end of public sector tweeting as we know it?

June 8, 2011

Is blogging and tweeting worth your job?As those who follow us on Twitter (@welovelocalgov by the way) will know, recently we came across what we think is some pretty bad news.  A fellow tweeter, @NakedCServant, has apparently been digitally hunted down over the course of seven months by a specialist security expert brought in by the DCLG, and has now been suspended pending an internal investigation and disciplinary hearing.  You can read more about it at the LocalGov website.

None of us at WLLG know or knew @NakedCServant, but we obviously feel a certain kinship with them.  They were writing as an anonymous voice from within government, saying many of the things others were thinking and offering an insiders perspective of what was going on.  Yes, he may have occasionally wandered over the line a little and said a couple of things that they wouldn’t say in a public meeting, but no state secrets were revealed, no one was hurt and no money was made.  What’s more, he did all of this from his own i-phone, so can’t even be accused of using government IT resources for personal use.  They did however break their code of conduct, and now face at best an uncertain future and at worst an unmasking and a brief fifteen minutes of notoriety.

This raises some serious questions regarding the way all of us who comment on government – central or local – might potentially make use of social media and share our opinions.   (more…)

Be the status update you want to see

May 16, 2011

Don't just say social media is good, use it.We all know we should brush our teeth twice a day, eat five portions of fruit and veg and keep fit.  A lot of us talk about trying to be healthier and encourage others to do the same.  Most of us however then ignore our own advice and tuck into a burger or chocolate.

Similarly, in local government we have been talking for years about the need to engage digitally with residents.  A lot of us have produced articles and presentations on just this, and some have even become real champions of the online world.

Most of us have then ignored all this and got on with the day job.  And it’s beginning to become frustrating.

The business case is clear, and has backing from government at the highest levels.  The benefits of mirroring offline engagement opportunities with online ones are well known, and are widely accepted even by cynics.  They don’t seem to have gotten past the ‘that’s a good idea, we should look at it one day’ stage however. (more…)

Progress Report

May 13, 2011

So are we happy with ourselves?There is simply no getting around it, and certainly no faking it: we are all local government workers. We turn up at our places of work, go to meetings, make project plans and evaluate them at the end. Some of us are also heavily involved in monitoring, and spend days looking at milestones and outputs.

With that in mind, we thought it might be good to do a little housekeeping and stay up to date with our monitoring paperwork. This blog has been going for some time now, and so we want to share a few things about how we feel we’ve been getting on.


Hopefully, most of you will be aware that along with this blog, we collectively maintain a Twitter account. Originally inspired to do so by the now employed Redundant Public Servant , this glory of the modern era allows us to post slightly shorter thoughts and ideas regularly, and really engage with other people who have an opinion – positive or negative – about local government.

It was our twitter account that inspired this blog post actually, as this week we passed 1000 followers. Compared to such luminaries as Dominic Campbell, Andy Sawford or Ben Page this is chicken feed, with 1000 followers arriving most days along with the junk mail. However, we began this blogging oddesey surprised and delighted when anyone at all followed us, and collectively managed to look abashed when we hit treble figures.

To see that more than a thousand people check in to hear what we have to say is humbling and exciting; for these aren’t any old thousand people, this includes many people who’s opinions we all value and appreciate immeasurably. If you are one of our thousand or so you have helped us out constantly, challenged us with questions and often just made us smile. So our first thanks goes to you.


When we started this blog way back in November 2009 we thought that we’d do well to update more than once or twice a week. Since then we have added 243 posts for our readers to enjoy, covering all manner of issues and topics, from the surreal to the anger provoking. We’ve challenged national policy decisions which affect local government, questioned the situations we get ourselves into and shared a few gems which colleagues have sent us to inspire a laugh.

We’ve hit walls for inspiration occasionally, but between us all we’ve tried to stick to churning out a little something every day which we think people will enjoy. And some of our favourite posts haven’t even come from one of our regular blogging team: we are honoured to have been able to post some fantastic guest posts from time to time. Some have been serious, some have been a little more whimsical, and some have been amongst the most viewed posts we’ve ever had, so our second thanks goes out to anyone and everyone who has put fingertips to keyboards and sent us some thoughts to share.


Inspired by a desire to share a few thoughts with a few people about a walking club, we put up our first post. It was read by about seven people a day, and the only people sharing it were the people who wrote it. Since then we have found ourselves shared like tomato sauce in a cafe; a little here, a little there and occasionally ending up somewhere we never expected to be.

We have written articles for those good people at the Guardian, been quoted by real journalists in real articles, been retweeted to all and sundry and been e-mailed around so much that some of us have had links to our own stories sent back to us (proving that for the moment at least our thin veil of anonymity is holding firm!). We have even been syndicated to other sites, sometimes even with our permission.  And to top it all, we lost our dignity a little when we found out that we had been listed in the LGC list of influential organisations.

That we are read by anyone in the first place still puts a smile in our hearts; that some of these enjoy our simple words enough to send them on to a colleague makes us a little giddy, so our third thanks go out to anyone and everyone who has ever tweeted, e-mailed, linked to our posted a status update about us or our posts.

And finally

Our final thanks are a little self indulgent, but also a little obvious. We want to thank all of those who share our passion for local government and appreciate the huge amounts of good it does, to all who do the big jobs and strategys, and to all who do the little jobs which no-one notices until they are stopped. So thank you to every single local government officer, whatever your pay grade, council, opinions or demeanor; we hope you all realise that we are not the only people out there who love local government.

Reasons to be cheerful

April 8, 2011

Mr Cheerful says 'Hello'!

Local Government is in a bit of upheaval at the moment (you may have noticed) and this affects every single employee within the public sector. The upheaval can be such that even when you personally survive the mess of it all it still overwhelms you.

Recognising this, today’s post is just a little on the self-indulgent side (sorry about that) as we take a moment to celebrate a few successes for the WLLG team.

So what possible reason do we have to be cheerful? Well…

1)      Most importantly…

Every single member of the WLLG team had to reapply for their own (or a slightly/very different) job. And we all survived!

We all looked redundancy in the face and said ‘not now; we’re way too busy serving the public to be made redundant’.

Redundancy shrugged its shoulders and agreed. In other words we are here to fight another day… and are mighty pleased about it.

2)      This blog has just this week ticked over 40,000 hits. When we started a blog about local government I don’t think any of us could possibly have imagined that level of interest in the rantings and musings of local government officers. (we had 25 hits in the first month… Mainly us!) But, some of you have and we are very grateful to every one of you who has read a post, commented on a post, re-tweeted something we’ve written or just signed up to follow us on twitter. You’re all great.

The level of local government debate out there, away from the cameras and the political posturing, is extremely high and if we have made just a tiny contribution to it, and made a few people smile as well, then we’re very happy indeed.

3)      People actually follow us on twitter!

I never really knew what twitter was for but using it as we have done – to share ideas, thoughts, quips and ramblings about local government – has been a lot of fun and very informative. We’ve all learnt tonnes and enjoyed the chat!

4)      Getting involved in this whole blogging game has opened up a world of very interesting people for us to follow, learn from and debate with. We try to reference the blogs as we go and when we remember do a good ‘follow Friday’ set on twitter so we won’t name them all here but hopefully by now they all know who they are and why we hold them in such high regard.

5)      The clocks went forward and we now leave work in the sunshine!

Happy Friday everyone and thanks again.

Locally social

January 25, 2011

If Bob Hoskins thinks it's good to talk, that's good enough for me

Last week I took part in the #lgovsm tweet up.  For those of you who haven’t had a look, it sees anyone interested in how social media can be better used in a local government setting all logging on to Twitter at the same time and talking about a central topic.  By adding the #lgovsm hashtag they can all then track the same conversation and respond to each other.  @loulouk started this a while ago and it’s sparked many a fantastic debate.

Social media is a topic close to my heart.  Communication is an area that has always fascinated me, ever since I realised that with a tonal change, a shrug of the shoulders or simply a….. pause, the entire meaning of words can shift and change.  Growing up in a world getting to grips with IT meant that it was inevitable that these fascinations should merge, so with venn diagrams all over the place I find myself in the enviable position of ‘doing’ some social media as part of my job.

The funny thing is, I don’t get it personally.  I don’t want to tell people meaningless snippets of information, nor do I want to always share my opinions on a given topic (understanding as I do the near permanence of anything published on the web).  But for local government, for me the possibilities seem endless. (more…)